The latest on how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting the NFL world:
As states reopen, the NFL reportedly is considering allowing teams to hold minicamps in June. But NFLPA president JC Tretter said the players have not agreed to any plan and any reports are thus hypothetical.
The NFL released its tentative schedule May 7, stating: “We will be prepared to make adjustments as necessary.” Commissioner Roger Goodell also said the league will follow public health advice and government regulations, utilizing appropriate safety protocols.
“The virus will make the decision for us,” Dr. Fauci, the nation’s lead pandemic advisor, told Peter King. “But I would hope that by the time you get to September it’s not gonna be the way it is right now.”
As the NFL and NFLPA discuss the players’ eventual return to team facilities, NFL medical chief Allen Sills said, “When we and the NFLPA together feel that we’re at a point of satisfaction with the science, we’ll move forward. We’re moving as fast as the science and data take us.” Sills said the NFL expects that there will be positive tests by players. “Our challenge is to identify them as quickly as possible and prevent them from spreading to other participants.” He said he expects testing to evolve and “we will likely be in a very different place 30 days from now, 60 days from now than we are now.”
JC Tretter, the new NFLPA president, said: “This is a contact disease, and we play a contact sport. … You can’t expect just to throw football back in and think that the virus is going to kneel down to almighty football. You have to look through different ways of making sure people stay healthy.”
On May 18, California and Texas governors said they are willing to let sports resume by early June, and New York is talking sports as well. “Sporting events, pro sports, in that first week or so of June without spectators and modifications and very prescriptive conditions also can begin to move forward,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said. No fans are expected in the early days as the NBA, NHL and MLB perhaps get started again. But, barring a big surge in cases, this would bode well for NFL camps to start in July.
Here’s a great tracker for every state’s pandemic situation and reopening status.
On May 1, Gov. Jay Inslee outlined the reopening of Washington, with sports expected to be allowed to resume around mid-July — with distancing measures.
If things are delayed beyond that in Washington (but not elsewhere), the Seahawks might be among the teams checking into alternate training sites.
Pete Carroll wonders how much time teams will have to prepare: “That’s gonna be a very big issue.”
On April 16, Inslee told KJR: “If I had a dollar to bet, I’d bet that we’d have football in the fall. But the virus has a vote in this.” Inslee said the rate of infections needs to decrease and testing/tracking have to be much better than they are now. On April 27, Inslee eased restrictions on outdoor sports such as fishing and golfing.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom previously had said the return of sports, even without fans, is still months away. On May 7, Newsom reiterated: “It’s difficult to imagine a stadium that’s filled until we have immunity, until we have a vaccine. It’s difficult for me to imagine what the (sports) leagues do when one or two of their key personnel or players are tested positive. Do they quarantine the rest of the team if an offensive lineman is practicing with a defensive lineman and they are tested positive? What happens to the rest of the line? What happens for the game coming up next weekend? It’s inconceivable to me that that’s not a likely scenario.
“It’s a very tough question for these leagues to answer, because they must have a safety-first, health-first mindset, and there are conditions that persist in this state and this nation that make re-opening very, very challenging.”
Dr. Fauci is a proponent of resuming sports: “There’s a way of doing that. Nobody comes to the stadium. Put (players) in big hotels, wherever you want to play, keep them very well surveilled. But have them tested like every week and make sure they don’t wind up infecting each other or their family, and just let them play the season out. People say, ‘You can’t play without spectators.’ Well, I think you’d probably get enough buy-in.”
As Art Thiel wrote, the NFL can’t play unless every state/city is unlocked and stays that way. If California remains closed while the rest of the NFL nation is ready to open, it is conceivable that the 49ers, Chargers and Rams all play elsewhere.
Fear of a second wave will make states and the NFL tread carefully.
In late March, the Seahawks and other Seattle sports franchises and events asked people to help flatten the curve.